Once upon a time, there was a poor farmer who lived with his wife and two children in a small cottage by the forest. He worked hard to feed his family, but the crops were scarce and he had to go deeper into the forest to find more land. One day, he came across a big, old tree that was so thick and tall that he could barely hug it. He felt that this tree was special, and decided to cut it down.
He took out his axe and swung it at the tree. But to his surprise, he heard a voice from the tree say: “Stop, good man! Spare me and I will grant you a wish!” The farmer was startled and dropped his axe. He looked around, but he could not see anyone. He thought he had misheard, and picked up his axe again. He swung it at the tree again, and again he heard the voice: “Please, please, don’t hurt me! I am a tree spirit and I can give you anything you want!”
The farmer was curious and asked: “What can you give me?” The tree spirit answered: “I can give you wealth, health or happiness. You just have to choose.” The farmer thought for a moment and said: “I want wealth. I am so poor that I can barely feed my family. Give me gold and jewels, so that I never have to worry again.” The tree spirit sighed and said: “As you wish. But remember, wealth is not everything. Sometimes it brings more misery than joy. Are you sure you want this?” The farmer nodded impatiently and said: “Yes, yes, just give me the gold!”
The tree spirit said: “Very well, then open your eyes and see!” The farmer opened his eyes and could not believe them. Before him lay a huge pile of gold coins and jewels that sparkled in the sun. He could not contain his joy and rushed to the treasure. He filled his pockets with gold and put rings on his fingers. He laughed loudly and said: “I am rich! I am rich! Thank you, dear tree spirit! You have changed my life!”
The tree spirit said: “I have granted your wish, but I warn you once more: Beware of the curse of wealth. It can do you more harm than good. Live wisely and share your fortune with others.” The farmer did not listen and ran away with his gold. He forgot his axe and the tree.
He came back to his cottage and showed his wife and children his treasure. They could hardly believe it and were very happy. They moved to a big castle and lived in luxury and abundance. They bought themselves fine clothes, jewelry, horses and carriages. They ate the finest food and drank the best wine. They amused themselves with games, music and dance.
But soon they realized that money did not bring them true happiness. They became greedy, proud and discontented. They argued often about money and distrusted each other. They had no friends anymore, for everyone envied them their wealth or wanted to take something from them. They feared thieves and robbers and did not sleep well.
One day, a great storm came and destroyed their castle. The roof collapsed, the windows broke, the walls cracked open. The gold was blown away by the wind or washed away by the rain. The family lost everything they had and were poor and miserable again. They cried bitterly and regretted their folly. They remembered the tree spirit and his warning.
They went back to the tree to ask for forgiveness. But they did not find it anymore. It had been struck by lightning and burned down. In its place stood only a black stump. The farmer called for the tree spirit, but he did not answer anymore. He was gone forever.
The family realized that they had made a big mistake. They had exploited the tree spirit and disregarded his kindness. They had wasted their wealth and lost their happiness. They had forgotten the value of simple things that had made them happy before: love, work, nature.
They decided to start a new life. They built themselves a new cottage out of wood and lived modestly and contentedly. They worked diligently to earn their living. They shared their bread with the poor and were kind to everyone. They planted a new tree in the place of the old one and cared for it carefully. They thanked heaven for everything they had and were happy.
And that is the end of the story of the farmer and the tree spirit.
- What did the farmer find in the forest that he wanted to cut down?
- What did the tree spirit offer the farmer in exchange for sparing its life?
- What did the farmer choose as his wish from the tree spirit?
- What warning did the tree spirit give to the farmer about his wish?
- How did the farmer and his family’s lives change after receiving their wealth?
- What happened to the farmer and his family’s wealth during a great storm?
- How did the farmer and his family’s lives change after losing their wealth?
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